Undergraduate ecology

Mar 26, 2015 • Sue McClatchy

I earned the first and only “C” of my undergraduate career in an ecology course that approached the subject in a dry, mathematical, textbook-heavy manner. My earlier courses had been field courses by the ocean, in the mountains, in the deserts. I resisted a mathematical approach because it was not what I loved, though I have no fear of mathematics. In spite of this new approach, I could have enjoyed and learned much in mathematical ecology were it not for the professor’s frequent mention of sex during his lectures. Sex in an ecology class is a perfectly appropriate topic, but his treatment of the topic was not appropriate. It was creepy and made me feel uncomfortable. I also lost respect for him as a professor and stopped taking the course seriously, so much so that I slept through the final exam.

I wish he understood the damage that he did by sharing what was on his mind with us. It’s good to show your human side, but what’s on your mind might not be appropriate or welcome in certain situations. Had he stopped making sexual references, I could have focused on the topic at hand and applied myself to it. Instead I was distracted by inappropriate talk and focused on that instead of learning mathematical ecology.